Lochgoilhead and Kilmorich

   LOCHGOILHEAD and KILMORICH, a parish, in the district of Cowal, county of Argyll, 10½ miles (S. E. by E.) from Inverary; containing 1018 inhabitants, of whom 445 are in Kilmorich. This place, of which the original name, Kil-nam-Brathairankill, signifying in the Gaelic language "the Church of the Brotherhood," was probably taken from some religious establishment here of which there are no authentic records, derives its present appellation of Lochgoilhead from the position of its church at the head of Loch Goil. The parish included anciently not only Kilmorich, which is still united to it, but also the greater portion of the parish of Kilmaglass, now Strachur; and prior to the Reformation it was an archdeanery, of which the revenues were very considerable. It is bounded on the east by Loch Long, and on the west by Loch Fine, and is about thirty-five miles in length, varying from six to twenty miles in breadth, and comprising a vast tract of which the exact extent has not been distinctly ascertained, but of which it is certain that little more than a fiftieth part is arable. The surface is boldly diversified with hills of various elevation, forming the western extremity of the Grampian range. These mountains, the height whereof has not been precisely computed, though few are supposed to be less, and some are probably more, than 2000 feet, are interspersed with rugged rocks and lofty precipices of dreary aspect; but, as they have been grazed by sheep, some of them are clothed with verdure almost to their summit. The rocks are perforated with numerous natural caverns of singular appearance, in one of which a lord of Ardkinglass, who had been defeated by a powerful neighbour, concealed himself with some of his followers for a whole year, during which time he was supplied with provisions by his vassals. Among the hills are some small valleys under cultivation; and along the coasts are also tracts of arable land, where the soil is tolerably fertile. There are two inland lakes abounding with trout of excellent flavour; in the rivers Goil, Fine, and Long, also, are found trout of various kinds, and, near the coast, sea-trout and salmon. The three lochs likewise abound with fish of different descriptions, of which the most common are, haddock, whiting, cod of small size, and, during the season, herrings.
   The soil in the hills is generally light and thin; in the high glens, wet and spongy; and in some other parts, a deep moss. The crops are, oats, bear, and potatoes; but the parish is principally adapted to the pasture of sheep and black-cattle, particularly the former, which are partly of the native, and partly of the Linton breed. The black-cattle are the Argyllshire; but, from the mountainous character of the country, few are reared, and these usually sold when three or four years old. The greater part of the wool is sent to the Liverpool market. The district appears to have formerly abounded with wood, and in the mosses are found numerous trunks of trees of various kinds: the remainder of these woods, preserved with care, consist chiefly of ash, alder, hazel, birch, and oak. The more recent plantations, which on the lands of Ardkinglass are extensive, are principally elm, beech, plane, lime, larix, and Scotch and silver firs. Limestone is obtained, but, from the scarcity of fuel, is little used; and near the head of Loch Fine is a mine of lead, the ore of which was found to contain a larger proportion of silver than any other in the Western Highlands; but it has not been wrought. The rateable annual value of the parish is £5602. The principal seats are Ardkinglass Lodge, a handsome edifice on the site of the ancient castle, the remains of which have been converted into offices for the present mansion; Ardgartain House, a modern structure; and Drimsynie House, also a modern mansion. The village of Lochgoilhead, in which the parish church is situated, and that of Cairndow, in which is the church of Kilmorich, and where a post-office has been established, as well as an excellent inn for the accommodation of travellers, are the only villages. Facility of communication is afforded by the great military road from Dumbarton to the West Highlands, which passes for sixteen miles through the parish; by the Loch Goil steamer in summer, plying daily, and in winter three times in the week, between Glasgow and Inverary; and by the ferry from St. Catherine's, across Loch Fine, to Inverary, on which is a steam-boat for the conveyance of passengers.
   The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Dunoon and synod of Argyll. The minister's stipend is £167. 9. 9., of which one fourth is paid from the exchequer, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £37.10., per annum; patron, Jas. H. Callendar, Esq., of Ardkinglass. The church at Lochgoilhead is an ancient structure, situated at the head of Loch Goil, in good repair, and containing 305 sittings; the church of Kilmorich, on the shore of Loch Fine, is a modern structure, having been erected in 1816, and contains 258 sittings. The minister officiates two Sundays at Lochgoilhead, and on the third Sunday at Kilmorich. The parochial school, at Lochgoilhead, is well attended; the master has a salary of £30, with a house and garden, and the fees average £5 per annum. A school at Kilmorich is supported by the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge; and other schools for the instruction of poor children are maintained during the winter by benevolent associations. There are some remains of the ancient castle of Dunduramh, a strong but irregular fortress in a low situation, accessible chiefly by sea; also of the castle of Carrick, a fortress of great strength, built upon a rock entirely surrounded by the sea, and accessible from the land only by a drawbridge. The time of the foundation of this castle is not known; but, during the feud between the houses of Argyll and Atholl, it was burnt by the vassals of the latter: it was a royal fortress, and the Duke of Argyll is still hereditary keeper.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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